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Written by:  Michele Piazzoni
Date: September 1, 2009

Kevin Leman, author of "The New Birth Order Book," says parents should treat their children like life is going to treat them: differently. He advises parents help their middle child overcome some unique challenges by incorporating these few tips into their daily parenting.

1. Empower them with choice. Middle children's opinions are easily overlooked. Decisions for most families often are based on the oldest child's activities. Try to avoid this by allowing your middle child to make choices that impact the whole family, and start young. A 3-year-old can make a choice about something as simple as what to eat for breakfast.

2. Encourage confidence. Take the extra time to draw out your middle child's opinions and thoughts. After all, he or she is most likely to keep feelings hidden. And when it's time for a special school project, let your middle child to reap the rewards of doing it himself or herself. This affirms your child's ability to accomplish goals.

3. Avoid comparisons. Probably one of the most difficult things for parents to do, but definitely one of the most important, is to avoid comparisons between siblings - no matter which position they hold in the birth order. Chances are, your middle child already knows exactly what his older brother has done and how well he did it. Focus on the individual achievements of each child.

4. Set aside special time. Your middle child may be used to getting a little less attention at home with a new baby around, or big sister's Girl Scout troop, so take a few minutes to go grab an ice cream cone together and talk.

5. Celebrate the "firsts." Encourage your middle child to try something new and different from his older sibling, like taking karate lessons instead of playing soccer. And it's OK for him to do something "first" with Grandma and Grandpa, like go to Sea World before his siblings.
Michele Piazzoni is a mother of three and California-based freelance writer. E-mail her at mpiazzoni@hotmail.com.



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